Epic books have been written about the Grand Canyon, so we can’t begin to do it justice in a simple review. To find out more about this fascinating national park, check out Bindu’s full destination guide, Grand Canyon National Park and Flagstaff.
What we can tell you (briefly) is that visiting this wonderland of geology carved by the Colorado River is an unforgettable experience. From Las Vegas, it’s doable as a fast-paced day trip, with bus and flight-seeing tour operators ready to handle the transportation angle. Tours cost from $125 to over $500 per person, depending on which activities are included (for example, flightseeing or river rafting). You can get discounts for booking in advance online directly with most tour companies, including Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Sundance Helicopters, Gray Line, and Pink Jeep Tours.
The biggest choice you’ll need to make is whether to visit Grand Canyon’s South Rim, like 90% of national park visitors do, or take a more off-the-beaten path route to the wild, remote North Rim, which is only open seasonally from very late spring through mid-autumn.
On the national park’s South Rim, all the action is in Grand Canyon Village, where you can drop the car and board the park’s free seasonal shuttle buses to go sightseeing. Accommodations include the landmark El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge; for either, you’ll need to make reservations well in advance. Bright Angel Lodge has a family-style restaurant and the Arizona Room steakhouse, which doesn’t take reservations.
The national park’s quieter North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October. Although it has no free park shuttles, some dramatic viewpoints are just an easy walk from the main road. You’ll find the park’s visitor center nearby the historic lodge, which offers snacks, meals, and drinks. Room and dinner reservations are essential here as well.
If you’re driving to the South Rim, it’s about a five-hour trip from Las Vegas. At the Nevada/Arizona state border, you’ll drive by Hoover Dam. If you’re visiting the North Rim, it’s a slightly shorter drive via Utah, passing beautiful Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
If you’re wondering about the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass-bottomed platform that extends out above the abyss, it’s located outside the national park on the Hualapai Nation’s tribal reservation land. To be honest, though, it’s a long, bumpy bus ride just to reach the attraction, which is artificial and overpriced. It’s not worth it, in our opinion. This part of the canyon is called the West Rim. Many tour operators from Vegas only visit the West Rim, but if you do that, you’ll miss out on the spectacular national park.